A first-of-its-kind marine fuel distribution service at the Port of Prince Rupert is now under construction, Wolverine Terminals ULC announced, on Oct. 14.
The rail-served marine distribution terminal (MDT), already approved by Transport Canada, is expected to be in service by quarter one in 2023. It will allow cargo vessels anchored or berthed in the port to refuel locally.
“This project further enhances the Port’s already-strong standing in the market as the closest North American port to Asia, utilizing CN’s cross-continent rail network, by providing one more significant advantage in the competitive Pacific gateway trade route,” Serge Bisson, president of Wolverine, said.
Construction will be underway by November and will conclude with two custom-built vessels arriving in port before the launch of operations.
Currently, the Prince Rupert port is one of the only major global ports not offering refuelling services for cargo vessels, with ships needing to carry enough fuel to make a round trip or detour to an alternative West Coast port which drives up costs of cargo and shipping, the company said.
“The Marine Fuel Terminal (MFT) will create full-time employment, in addition to new indirect jobs stimulated by potential growth in cargo volumes. The Terminal will also generate supplementary benefits, locally and provincially, through spending on goods and services, taxes, and provide local availability of low-sulphur marine fuel, potentially reducing the number of vessels routing south to refuel,” a media release stated.
More than 537 vessels, including cruise ships, cargo ships, ferries, fishing vessels and private boats, visited Prince Rupert during 2020, with the number expected to increase in the future.
Wolverine Terminals ULC is a Calgary, based company focused on the development of energy-related marine terminals at key ports in Canada and the U.S.
“Wolverine’s experienced team has the resources and a strong track record of building and operating safe, environmentally responsible, and successful energy service businesses,” the release read.
In 2019, Wolverine completed a comprehensive Environmental Effects Evaluation, complying with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012), and will continue to be regulated by the Port of Prince Rupert and Transport Canada.
The project will include the construction of a new mooring site at an existing marine industrial location to secure fuel barges, with the marine berth being the mooring site for the rail barge and the transfer of fuel to the distribution barge.
The rail barge will only move between the marine berth and the Aquatrain Terminal and the distribution barge will move between the marine berth and fuelling locations within the Port, Wolverine stated.
Operations will include a marine fuelling service that involves the transfer of rail cars on and off a purpose-built rail barge at the existing under-utilized Aquatrain Terminal with tug transport of the rail barge (approximately 400 meters) between the Aquatrain Terminal and the fuel service mooring site.
Marine fuel will be transferred from rail cars into fuel storage tanks located within the rail barge and within the fuel distribution barge.
Fuel distribution, by tug, will occur to the barge between the fuel service mooring site and approved locations within the Port, followed by the transfer of fuels from the fuel distribution barge into large cargo vessels.
The organization stated it will continue to engage all stakeholders and will adhere to all environmental and regulatory requirements for both the construction and operational phases.
“We look forward to a lasting, positive relationship with our partners in Prince Rupert, in addition to our immediate neighbours and surrounding communities,” Bisson said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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